November 5, 2007.
There were a lot of tears that fell on that day. Fall of 2007 will be forever burned into my memory as a time when my life changed.
November 5, 2007 was the day the Doodle Bug was officially diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Even though I already knew, hearing those words from the Doctor was heartbreaking.
But I already knew. In my heart I knew something wasn't right. No child is that fussy and quirky and hard to understand and behind; which is why I made the appointment to begin with. So why would I be so upset with the diagnosis? Because when you have a child, you only want the very best for that little person. You set it up from the moment of conception. For nine long months you imagine how things will be when he's born. When you're given a diagnosis of autism, that changes everything. You don't know what will be in store for you other than what you've heard or seen on Oprah or caught on the tail-end of a documentary. You know you are going to have your work cut out for you that it's going to be harder.
You imagine the worst. You do your best to not to try to think about it or to have hope and be optimistic. Will he ever talk?
And then as the days and years go by, you tell yourself it's just taking longer than it was supposed to. That he will talk. He will talk. Right? And then the flood of questions...
What if never talks?
Will he ever go to a regular classroom?
Will he ever be able to take care of himself?
Who will take care of him when we're gone?
Will he ever find true love?
Will he be OK?
I know a lot can change in the years to come. And I hope and pray every day that things won't get worse. As devastated as I was about the autism and as long as it took me to process what it meant, it was a grieving experience for me. I was grieving over losing my idea of "normal' and what that was supposed to look like now and in the years to come.
Then when the epilepsy showed up in January, it knocked the wind out of me. I wasn't ready for it. I was too busy being burdened and devastated by the idea of autism. So, in a way, the epilepsy knocked some sense into me. It showed me that's it's true, "you shouldn't sweat the small stuff". I had been worried and depressed and then the seizures came along and shook me to my core almost screaming at me...."Oh Yeah? Forget about the Autism...Here's something to really worry about!"
It took the autism from Giant Worry #1--I can't think about anything else to...who the hell cares. The medical issues, seizures and complications far outweigh the developmental delays.
So now, I don't feel the same about the Doodle Bug and his autism. I have had 3 years to fall in love with this little man, quirks, tantrums, developmental delays and all. He is one of the most loving and cuddly little autistic people I have ever met and I know he loves me just as much as I love him, completely unconditionally. He's so pure and although devilish, he's just an innocent little 3 year old who doesn't know there is anything different about himself.
Two years have passed and it's taken me some time but I have fully accepted and embrace my little Doodle Bug, his autism, quirks and all. And when I clear space in my heart that used to be filled with disappointment that I don't have a completely normal child, it allows me more space to love and cherish who he is and who he will become. My days are no longer filled with the idea of trying to "fix" him. For whatever reason, this must just be who he is supposed to be. His destiny will be that he was a little man born into this family to remind us of our life's blessings. A little man sent here to teach us patience, understanding and unconditional love. A little man to remind of all that is truly important.
This doesn't mean I don't have hopes and dreams for him. I always will. I believe in him.